Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1255, (23 - 29 July 2015)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1255, (23 - 29 July 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Assault on Mido’s record books

The trio of Salah, Al-Nenni and Al-Mohamadi have broken some European records of former superstar Mido after an outstanding 2014-2015 season. Mohamed Abdel-Razek reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

Ahmed Hossam, better known as Mido, remains the most prominent Egyptian footballer ever to have played in Europe.

After building a flashy reputation in less than 13 years, the centre forward retired in 2013 at the age of only 30. The Mido journey in Europe came to an end after passing by top clubs in Belgium, Holland, France, Italy and England. Mido’s accomplishments and reputation in Europe remain the pie in the sky for most rising youngsters in Egypt.

Many football observers along with fans in Egypt thought it would take some time before Egyptian football could produce a player who could break Mido’s records in Europe, or even match them. That belief, however, did not take into account that football activities were put on hold for long stretches in Egypt following the revolutions of 2011 and 2013, giving opportunities to several Egyptian footballers to seek playing time abroad.

Fast forward, and after nearly four years in Europe, Mohamed Salah, Mohamed Al-Nenni and Ahmed Al-Mohamadi have proven to be the right candidates to fill in for Mido around Europe’s finest grounds. Each player has his own story, but they all share two common traits: consistency and discipline.

Salah is now the most expensive football player in Egypt’s history with a €13.25 million price tag, after his move from Basel FC to Chelsea back in 2014, breaking Mido’s record of €12 million when he moved from Ajax to Marseille in 2003.

With interested clubs like Inter Milan, Tottenham, and Atletico Madrid biding €18 and €20 million, wishing to capture Salah, a new record is about to be pinned to history in this summer’s transfer window.

No wonder Salah proved such a great potential when he was in Basel FC from 2012 to 2014, winning the Swiss Super League twice, and reaching the UEFA Cup semi-finals in 2013 against Chelsea, (2013 UEFA Cup winners). Recently, Salah did it again with the Italian side Fiorentina which he played for this season, loaned from his current club Chelsea, to reach the UEFA Cup semi-final for the second time in his career, and again breaking Mido’s record who had been the only Egyptian in history to reach the UEFA Cup semi-final stage with Marseille in 2003.

During his career in Europe from 2012 to 2015, Salah managed to score five goals in the UEFA Champions League to become the highest scoring Egyptian in such a prestigious competition. Mido now comes second with two goals with Marseille in 2003. In 2014-2015, Salah also managed to become the first Egyptian footballer to win the English Premier League and the English League Cup with his club Chelsea, together with being the highest scoring Egyptian in the Italian Serie A with six goals when he was loaned to Fiorentina during the second half of the season.

Looking for a new challenge is the dominant topic in Salah’s mind right now. Whether he will return to Chelsea or move to another club, No 23 needs to play consistently in order to keep on building his pyramid of achievements in Europe.

Moving on to Al-Nenni who at the age of only 23 managed to win three Swiss Super League trophies with his current club Basel since his move from Arab-Contractors FC in 2012. The talented midfielder proved the backbone of the Swiss side since his arrival, appearing in a whopping 116 matches with the RotBlau, 11 of them in the UEFA Champions League, for most appearances by an Egyptian in the competition after Ahmed Hassan with nine.

Whether Al-Nenni decides to stay with the RotBlau this summer or move to a bigger club in Europe, he is expected to break Mido’s 256 record of most European appearances by an Egyptian footballer.

Also, if Al-Nenni is crowned with a fourth league title next season with Basel, he will be the Egyptian footballer with the most European league titles in his pocket. If he doesn’t do it this season, he always has next season.               

Not to be forgotten is the consistent Al-Mohamadi who settled in the English Premier League since his loan from the Egyptian side Enpi to Sunderland in 2010. The right-winger adapted to the English pitch quickly, a fact which persuaded Sunderland to make the deal permanent. In 2012 Al-Mohamadi was loaned to Hull City, after which the club finalised a permanent deal with him in 2013 after building strong ties with his coach Steve Bruce. Since then, and as a result of his crucial consistency in the English Premier League, the Egyptian international recorded 132 appearances to smash Mido’s 94-game record in the EPL. Now, and despite his great performance with Hull last season, Al-Mohamadi’s run is in danger of coming to a stop after his team was relegated to the Championship next season. However, with many clubs interested in capturing Al-Mohamadi, including Everton, he still has an option.

Despite the records, in the minds of Egyptians, it will take much more for Salah, Al-Nenni and Al-Mohamadi to venture into Mido territory. It will never be forgotten that Mido, and before him, Hani Ramzi in Germany, paved the road for all Egyptian players to play in Europe. Mido made history with Ajax Amsterdam by winning the Eredivisie twice and the KNVB Cup once with a total of 26 goals, enough to make a place for Mido’s shirt and picture in the Hall of Fame at the Ajax Museum besides the legends who played for the great club including Frank De Boer and Marco van Basten.

Adding to this were the scoring records Mido broke in the Belgian Super League with Gent, in the Liga BBVA with Celta Vigo, the France League 1 with Marseille, and the EPL with Tottenham, Middlesbrough and Wigan.

It seems that Mido is still an untouchable, but for how long? His young successors could answer that in upcoming seasons.

The writer is a freelance journalist.

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